My recent Fluke acquisition reminded me of the video for Beirut’s Elephant Gun. While I was checking it out, I came across this impromptu performance Postcards From Italy and decided I had to work out the song.
Beirut mainman Zach Condon’s choice of ukulele wasn’t entirely voluntary. In an interview with Pitchfork he explained that after falling of a bridge age 14, “my left wrist is an inch-and-a-half shorter than my [right one] and doesn’t quite have the mobility to wrap around a guitar neck without a bit of pain.” I’d say falling off a bridge was a small price to pay for avoiding the fate of becoming a guitar player.
Postcards From Italy is divided into two halves. The first half has this riff repeated:
If you’d rather strum chords through this section, moving between F and A will do it for you.
As the lyrics shift from the nostalgia in the first half of the song to the anticipation of the second half, so the music shifts with it. There is a small correction I would make to the fingering of the chords in the chart. It suggests playing the C chord with your third finger. But using you pinkie (little finger) allows for a much easier transition into the Bbadd9. You could keep your pinky there through all the chords (creating a Dm7 rather than Dm). It creates an effective drone through the chord changes.
The rhythm for this second section is not played the same every time, but I play the basic pattern like this:
The up arrows indicated down strums and the down arrows indicate up strums (don’t look at me, I didn’t invent the system).
Here’s the rhythm played slowly, then up to tempo.